John McCrae was a Canadian army doctor who served in Belgium and France during WW1. He was so moved by how quickly the poppies grew up and around the makeshift grave of a recently fallen friend that he wrote the poem “In Flanders Field”, (1915).
The photos below are of the towering Canadian monument, “The Brooding Soldier”, and a headstone in the Canadian section of the cemetery in Flanders Field.
Inspired by the words of the poem, “In Flanders Field”, Madame Anna Guérin, “The Poppy Lady“, founded a charity to help rebuild war-torn regions of France. To fund this project, she sold red fabric poppies.
Madame Guérin approached France’s allies, including Canada, about using the poppy as their country’s official symbol of remembrance. On July 6, 1921, the Canadian Legion agreed to do so and, to this day, the poppy is worn on the left lapel (closest to the heart) on the days leading up to November 11 to honour those who died in military combat since WW1. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the poppy.
My dad was a WW11 Army veteran and a member of the Calgary Tank Regiment (he is the one in the middle of the photo- left). He mainly was stationed in Italy and being on the front lines, there is little doubt he witnessed horrific events. He was part of that generation… the strong, silent type that never spoke of their feelings, possibly suppressing grief and loss throughout his lifetime.
My dad was not a tall man and was slight of build, but had the strength and stamina of men twice his size. He was handsome, loved to dress up and liked to dance…his favourite song was “The Tennessee Waltz”. He was “cool” long before I knew what cool was.
Although he worked out of town throughout most of my adolescence, he was the buffer between my mom and me at an age when mothers and daughters often locked horns. My mom was not impressed with my fashion sense or the way I chose to wear my hair, and somehow, he managed to neutralize the ragged edges of that relationship. I remember one time after an exasperating and unsuccessful shopping trip with my mom to get new shoes, my dad took me to a high-end shoe store and bought me a pair of pale pink patent leather Queen Anne heels that I’m guessing were well beyond the household budget. I loved those shoes…they went to bed with me that night! He also got me through Math 30…the unit on probability. When I would get all tangled up in the text of a problem, he would logically take me through the process until I understood it. Once I became an adult, I would often visit with a torn out magazine picture of something I hoped he would build for me. Usually, the first words he’d say were, “No, I don’t think I can make that”, and then after a night of mulling it over, he’d call and say yes he could do it. The times we spent together in his workshop were some of my fondest memories.
Like many of you who will be thinking of a family member or loved one this Remembrance Day, I, too, will be remembering my dad…my hero.
8 thoughts on “Remembering…”
What a lovely tribute… of course I cried.
The tears are rolling down as I type. A beautiful tribute to a wonderful Dad. Please remind me to tell you my Dad and shoes story next time we meet. My Dad was in the Air Force during the WWII. He played the same role between my Mom and myself, as it sounds like your Dad did. He was my hero too, and I miss him so much.
Hi Karen, I suspect that Remembrance Day is as sentimental for you as it is for me. I’m happy that you, too, have fond memories of your dad. And I look forward to hearing your “shoe” story too! xox Judy❤️
I’m feeling very emotional as I write this Judy, especially as I look at the photo of your dad. My grandpa would never talk about the war or his experiences and I know the emotional trauma impacted him for the rest of his life, even though he eventually recovered from his physical injuries. I always remind myself that I am fortunate to have the life that I have because of the sacrifices that people like him and your dad made. This is such a beautiful tribute to your dad who was obviously so special to you as you were to him. Hugs, Karen xo❤️
Hi Karen, Thank you for sharing your story…I agree that we are so lucky, as well as our children, that beloved memberts of our families sacrificed so much so that we could enjoy the lives we live today. It’s hard to imagine what it was like for young men like your grandpa and my dad who were just young men, (like our sons, and grandsons) when they went to battle…xox Judy❤️
Hi Jude – Just wanted to comment on your touching tribute to Dad. He is my hero too.When I am building something in the garage and have a problem, I often think of how Dad would sit and think things over and then come up with a solution. Sometimes it works for me, although I know that I will never be the carpenter that he was.
I too, have stepped in to go shopping with Cassidy when she and Glennis were at loggerheads about fashion. Must be more common occurance than you think.
Hi Con Many of us think their dad is the greatest and, in our case, he really was. We are the lucky ones! xox Judy❤️